Talkteena Air Taxi flightseeing has been lauded by the Discovery Channel, the National Geographic channel, and the BBC, among other notable media outlets. It has been taking off for trips since 1947, when the company helped pioneer flights, landings, and rescues in the Alaska Range. Today, pilots averaging 12 years of experience comprise a flightseeing team that shepherds groups of glacier gazers along four aerial routes. For each tour, passengers load into a De Havilland or Cessna plane from the outfit's fleet and strap on headsets so they can listen to the captain's commentary. The McKinley Base Camp trip leads onlookers on a winding trail along the south, east, and west faces of Mt. McKinley, and the Summit excursion ventures to higher altitudes and gives a scalp massage to the summits of Mt. McKinley, Mt. Foraker, and Mt. Hunter.
Bouncin' Bears’ indoor inflatables set the scene for kids to unleash their imaginations while zooming down slides and climbing through jungle gyms. Staff members keep a close eye on the sea of green, yellow, and blue inflatables, ensuring safe play as little ones bound over obstacles. Age-appropriate inflatables host toddlers aged 3 and younger. In addition to open play, the facilities also host parties that incorporate activities such as Nerf-gun battles.
Amateur pilots can learn how to fly Cessna planes, Piper J3 Cubs, and Maule MX7s during float ratings, bush courses, and tailwheel training with Legends Aviation. For those who'd rather see the sights than take the controls, tours traverse some of Alaska's most notable landscapes, including Denali National Park, the Mount Spurr volcano, and the Knik Glacier. Soar over the icy peaks and deep valleys or hire a plane to take you to official checkpoints along the Iditarod Trail to look for abandoned foam fingers.
The Musk Ox Farm director Mark Austin is the first to admit that Maple, a three-day-old musk ox calf, is the cutest thing in the world. Her thin legs take wobbling steps. Her fine fuzz tickles her giant mother’s belly. And when she ambles through the pasture after nursing, her bright pink tongue wags from the side of her mouth. And Maple is just the beginning: 11 more calves are on the way this spring season, and the farm will soon burst into a flurry of feeding, combing, inserting microchips, tending to mothers, and, of course, greeting visitors.
Though he acknowledges the endearing quality of a baby musk ox in spring, Mr. Austin worries that visitors to The Musk Ox Farm might get so caught up with the new calf that they miss the farm's larger project. “I’m trying to battle the perception we’re a roadside attraction. It’s not just about getting out of your car and snapping a photo of a musk ox for your Alaska photo album.”
Not that Mr. Austin hasn’t snapped a few photos of Maple himself. He simply hopes the spectacle won’t overshadow the nonprofit farm’s scope, which begins and ends with the animals themselves. Although the majestic species is about 600,000 years old, domestication efforts began only 60 years ago by Farm founder John Teal. Every spring, the several-hundred-pound animals shed their qiviut, a thick under wool, some of which the farm ships to the native knitters’ cooperative in Oomingmak. There, members knit the wool into delicate lacy garments that they eventually sell to supplement their subsistence lifestyle. So when Mr. Austin looks at Maple, he sees not just a huggable calf, but the source of positive economic change for rural native Alaskan women. “The animals are fascinating,” he says. “But it’s the big picture that gets me up in the morning.”
Members at Curves, a fitness center designed exclusively for women, rotate around a circuit of hydraulic resistance machines that have been designed to work with female bodies and promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and deal with arthritis. An experienced trainer is always nearby to help manage participants’ machine maneuvering and muscle making. Instead of fiddling with weight stacks and losing momentum, the hydraulic machines use your own body weight, fitness level, and aerodynamic water bottle to create resistance that matches abilities, decreasing the risk of soreness or injury. Because traditional lift-and-lower motions create bulky muscles, each machine uses push-and-pull motions to create toned, lean muscles perfect for crushing a grapefruit without looking like you can.
When it's logistically easy for parents to fit martial-arts training into their children's schedule, it's easier for kids to learn and have fun. Hapkido and tae kwon do teachers Grandmaster Chung and Master Knueppel lead the actual lessons, but the whole team at Chung's Tae Kwon Do Institute keeps things running smoothly for parents. They pick up kids at school to transport them, free of charge, to the after-school program. They also organize special classes when schools close unexpectedly for weather.